What a Friend We Have in Jesus

What a Friend We Have in Jesus, the Song and the Story

Composer Joseph M. Scriven Writes What a Friend We Have in Jesus

Irish born Joseph M. Scriven (1819-1896) was 25 years old, in love and to be married. The day before his wedding his fiance died in a tragic drowning accident. Heartbroken, Joseph sailed from his homeland to start a new life in Canada. While in Canada working as a teacher, he fell in love again and became engaged to Eliza Roche, a relative of one of his students. Once again, Joseph’s hopes and dreams were shattered when Eliza became ill and died before the wedding could take place.

Although one can only imagine the turmoil within this young man, history tells us that his faith in God sustained him. Soon after Eliza’s death Joseph joined the Plymouth Brethren and began preaching for a Baptist church. He never married, but spent the remainder of his life giving all his time, money and even the clothes off his own back to help the less fortunate and to spread the love and compassion of Jesus wherever he went.

Around the same time that Eliza died, Joseph received word from Ireland that his mother was ill. He could not go to be with her, so he wrote a letter of comfort and enclosed one of his poems entitled What a Friend We Have in Jesus.

Many years later a friend was sitting with Joseph, as he was very ill. During this visit, the friend was very impressed when he ran across his poems, including What a Friend We Have in Jesus. As a result of this visit, almost 30 years after his letter of comfort to his mother, Joseph’s poems were published in a book called Hymns and Other Verses. Soon thereafter, noted musician Charles C. Converse (1834-1918) put music to one of those poems: What a Friend We Have in Jesus.
Well-known musician and revivalist Ira D. Sankey (1840-1908) was a great admirer of Joseph Scriven. In 1875, Sankey came upon the music and words for What a Friend We Have in Jesus. He included it as the last entry into his well-known publication Sankey’s Gospel Hymns Number 1.

After Joseph Scriven’s death, the citizens of Port Hope, Ontario, Canada, where he gave so much of himself, erected a monument to his life. The seemingly sad and obscure life of one man resulted in so many lives being uplifted, both in his own time, and for many years after whenever the beautiful and comforting words of What a Friend We Have in Jesus are sung.

What a Friend We Have in Jesus

What a Friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer!
O what peace we often forfeit, O what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry everything to God in prayer.

Have we trials and temptations? Is there trouble anywhere?
We should never be discouraged; take it to the Lord in prayer.
Can we find a friend so faithful who will all our sorrows share?
Jesus knows our every weakness; take it to the Lord in prayer.

Are we weak and heavy laden, cumbered with a load of care?
Precious Savior, still our refuge, take it to the Lord in prayer.
Do your friends despise, forsake you? Take it to the Lord in prayer!
In His arms He’ll take and shield you; you will find a solace there.

Blessed Savior, Thou hast promised Thou wilt all our burdens bear
May we ever, Lord, be bringing all to Thee in earnest prayer.
Soon in glory bright unclouded there will be no need for prayer
Rapture, praise and endless worship will be our sweet portion there.

Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” ( John 15:13)

October 03 2013 | Bible Study and Personal | No Comments »

Difference between salvation and discipleship

I’m sure that most Christians have heard or read “As He spake these words, many believed on Him. Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on Him, If ye continue in My Word, then are ye my disciples indeed; and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” John 8:30–32

I don’t know of anyone who doesn’t want to know the truth.  Well here is some truth.  There is a GIGANTIC difference between salvation and discipleship.  I could give you many detailed distinctions but I will just mention a few.  One is based on pure grace .. a gift you cannot earn at any price while the other is based on your effort to obey and follow.  At salvation, you receive a gift, eternal life (John 4:10 and Romans 6:23); in discipleship, you give a gift, your body (or self) (Romans 12:1).  The salvation decision in Christ alone for eternal life only needs to be made once and can never be lost (unless you intentionally give it up). (Romans 10:9) discipleship is a continual commitment to obey Christ and must be made over and over (Luke 9:23).  You gain eternal life as the result of salvation; eternal rewards are gained through earnest and honest discipleship (Matthew 16:27).

Yes, I do believe there will people in heaven who have not been great disciples.  Disciples do sin and fail, but are still saved.  We must let Christ be their judge, for everyone who is saved shall stand at the Judgment Seat of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:10).  I hope that you have made the salvation decision by asking Jesus to come into your life. (Romans 10:9)  If you have .. congratulations, but please consider the next step.  This truth will truly set you free and you will not regret it.

August 29 2013 | Bible Study | No Comments »

Jesus is the “Voice of God”

Psalm 29:4 says “The voice of the LORD is powerful; the voice of the LORD is full of majesty.”.  In the Hebrew language, the concept “full of majesty” implies grand, sublime, overpowering, overwhelming.  By his voice, God created the entire universe.  Let no one deceive you.  God spoke and what did NOT exist came into existence.  There was no big bang .. only the voice of God. There was absolutely nothing and God’s voice created everything in the universe  .. with only one exception .. God created you and me lovingly with his own hands. (Gen 2:4) He formed us from the dust of the ground in his own image and breathed into us his own spirit.  WOW, how fantastic .. how special does that make us !!

John 1:1 says “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God.…”.  So Jesus himself is called the “Word”.  When someone speaks, it’s the “Word” that is spoken so it could be said that Jesus being the “Word” and being God was himself full of majesty.  There is not any doubt about it.  Jesus himself IS the voice of the Lord that is full of majesty and that he created the universe and all that we know in the physical world.  Consider these verses .. “Through him [Jesus] all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.” (John 1:3) .. “For by him [Jesus] all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him.” (Colossians 1:16)

I am so grateful that we can worship Jesus as God and am even more grateful that he created you and me in his image.  One more thing .. did you now that this belief regarding Jesus is unique to the Christian faith ?  No other religion on earth holds this truth to be absolute.  It’s what makes us Christians.

August 29 2013 | Bible Study | No Comments »

When will there be true justice?

I know plenty of good people who are fed up with all the evil in the world and some are even angry with God that he doesn’t execute justice right here and now.  They ask “When will God refuse to tolerate all this pornogrophy, perversions, rape, insest, murder and every other form of evil that mankind can think of”.  I sure wish that God would hurry up and deal with it all.  It’s making me sick .. they say.

Habakkuk asked God “What are you going to do about judging the sin of Israel?” God reveals His plan to Habakkuk. He tells Habakkuk in verses 1:5-11 to prepare to be shocked .. “You are not going to believe this. You think I’m not working. Well, just wait till you see what I’m going to do”. To judge the sin of His people, God chose the meanest, toughest, most brutal crowd of barbarians the world had ever seen .. cold blooded killers every one of them .. the Chaldeans (Habakkuk 1:5).

In the story of Job, Job proclaimed his innocence and wished for a meeting with God to plead his case. By the end of the story, Job gets his wish. However, Job finally wishes he had not gotten what he asked for. God of course gives him a scathing rebuke that basically says “I am God. Who do you think you are?  Be quiet”.

We need to remember that God is God and that Jesus said on the cross “It is finished”.  What that means to me is that God has it all worked out, completely under control.  He WILL judge the world someday and bring all the suffering and sin to an end. True Justice will be done.  In the meantime, we just need to believe that he will be there for us through every trial and tribulation and that our safety can be found in Jesus.  Praise God for that.

August 29 2013 | Bible Study | No Comments »

A Soldier’s Christmas

I hope you will remember our troops serving in far away lands this Christmas.

‘Twas the night before Christmas, he lived all alone,
in a one bedroom house made of plaster and stone.

I had come down the chimney with presents to give,
and to see just who in this little house lived.

As I looked all about, a strange sight I did see,
No tinsel, no presents, not even a tree.

No Stockings by mantle, just boots filled with sand,
On the wall hung pictures of far distant lands.

With medals and badges, awards of all kinds,
A sobering thought came through my mind.

For this house was different, it was dark and dreary,
The home of a soldier, I could now see clearly.

The soldier lay sleeping, silent, alone,
Curled up on the floor in this one bedroom home.

The face was so gentle, the room in such disorder,
Not how I picture a United States Soldier.

Was this the hero of whom I’d just read?
Curled up on a poncho, the floor for a bed?

I realized the families that I saw this night,
owed their lives to these soldiers who were willing to fight.

Soon round the world, the children would play,
and grownups would celebrate a bright Christmas day.

They all enjoyed freedom each month of the year,
because of the soldiers, like the one lying here.

I couldn’t help wondering how many lay alone,
on a cold Christmas Eve in a land far from home.

The very thought brought a tear to my eye,
I dropped to one knee and started to cry.

The soldier awakened and I heard a rough voice,
“Santa don’t cry, for this life is my choice”.

I fight for freedom, I don’t ask for more,
My life is my God, my country, my corps.”

The soldier rolled over and drifted to sleep,
I couldn’t control it, I continued to weep.

I kept watch for hours, so silent and still,
as we both shivered from the cold night’s chill.

I didn’t want to leave, on that cold, dark night,
this guardian of honor, so willing to fight.

Then the soldier rolled over, with a voice soft and pure,
whispered, “Carry on Santa…., It’s Christmas Day…., All is secure.

One look at my watch, and I knew he was right,
Merry Christmas my friend…. and to all a Good Night.

~ Author Unknown *~

December 25 2010 | Personal | No Comments »

Jesus Christ is God

If you have followed this Blog very long, you know that I love to talk about Jesus being God.  He WAS and IS GOD and it excites me to no ends when I realize that God who created the Universe and me became a man, just like me, and died so I would not have to.

C.S. Lewis is noted as one of the most prolific christian writers of the last 150 years.  In his book “Mere Christianity” he said this:

” I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: “I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept His claim to be God.” That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic—on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg—or else he would be the Devil of hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God; or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon, or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come away with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to. ”

Jesus Christ is Lord because He IS God.

While on the earth Jesus did exactly what was apparently the impossible thing He said He would do. He taught on numerous occasions that He would be killed, buried for three days, and would rise from the dead. Obviously, if Jesus did not rise from the dead what He said was a lie and He was justly crucified for blasphemy.

However, since He was raised from the dead what He declared was not blasphemy because He truly was God. He was claiming that He was Yahweh, the LORD God, Jehovah, and the great I AM.

To the people who heard Jesus make these claims it was the grandest form of heresy worthy of death.  It was outrageous and impossible.  But it was true!

Do you believe in Jesus ?  Jehovah’s Witnesses do.  Mormon’s do, but DO YOU BELIEVE HE WAS GOD ?  That will make all the difference.

June 09 2010 | Bible Study | No Comments »

How free is our free will ?

The subject of the sovereignty of God and whether God is in control of our lives and how this effects are free will choices is extremely controversial in the Evangelical community.  Is God in control or not ?  Is he sovereign or not ?  Did God direct my thoughts, steps and ultimately my choice to accept Jesus as my savior ?  Can I take any credit for any of it ? 

I will tell you up front, that I do not have this settled in my mind 100%   It’s as complex as any theological subject you can find.  

God is the master of life and death.  He alone created us for his own pleasure and he alone has the right to determine our future.  Now, that is a fact undisputed in the Bible.   Did you know that NO WHERE in the Bible does it say that man has “free will”.    Instead it says that we are created in the spitting image of God.  Seeing how God knows everything, and seeing how God cannot lie, and seeing how God can not be wrong, then he must not have “free will” either.  If he does, then he he would be in paradox.  Unsolvable and imperfect.  That can not be true either so God must not have free will as we think of it.  That is to say the choice between two or more outcomes.  God’s mind has all ready been made up about all of it !  It’s finished.  If God every had free will then he’s made his choices and you and I are stuck with it.  Praise God for that !

26 Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground."  27 So God created man in his own image,  in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.  (Genesis 1:26-27)

The entire problem I think is our definition of “free will”.  Being human,  and in our depraved state, we think that we are the center of the universe and that we have a choice to do or not do.  To be or not to be.  This is a selfish illusion.   The entire idea came from the Greeks and had no basis in the Jewish theological tradition.  God was Sovereign and that was that.   Take a look at Psalms 139 sometime and you’ll see this clearly.   God is the potter and we are the clay (Romans 9:20-23).   He get’s to decide if we make it.   He and he alone determines our fitness for any particular purpose.  And here’s the GOOD NEWS !  He has done so in Jesus Christ !   Now let’s look at it this way.  Before salvation on the cross, You and I were DEAD!   So, the one choice we might have had is all ready made (In Adam).  We did not make it, God  did as a result of our sins.  Now Jesus comes along and offers us the chance to be UN-DEAD.  I don’t know about you, but I only see ONE choice there since alternative isn’t a choice at all.  We are  DEAD remember.   I can stay DEAD, the choice I didn’t make or I can with the help of the Holy Spirit, being quickened in my spirit unto salvation, accept the salvation he provided through his irresistible Grace.   

So if all this is true and I have NO free will in reality, then how can God hold me accountable?  If you think about it, my sins have all ready been judged in Adam.  I was judged guilty and put out of the presence of God  (That’s spiritual death).  I was separated from God with NO WAY out.  We humans must remember that we are dealing with an infinite God.  We want to think that we start with a clean slate.  We don’t.  We want to put God in a position that we have NO right to put him in.  We are all guilty and condemned.  God by Grace saved us from eternal damnation and separation through Jesus.   It’s a pure gift, not of anything I did or could have done.

I’ve told you that this is very complex subject.  It’s also a very controversial one.   If you have more interest in this you could look at the following sites.

Open Theism Information Site .. http://www.opentheism.info/

The Dangers of Open Theism .. http://www.midwestapologetics.org/articles/theology/opentheism.htm

June 06 2010 | Bible Study | 1 Comment »

What is your passion ?

In a daily devotional at Proverbs 31 Ministries, I  found this prayer.

Heavenly Father, God of Heaven’s Armies, King of kings and Lord of lords, give me one pure and holy passion, give me one magnificent obsession, give me one glorious ambition for my life…to know and follow hard after You.  Change my heart to desire You above all else in my life. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

It really got me to thinking about our willingness to follow God HARD !  Not casually, lamely or when it suits our lifestyle or schedule.

This kind of  passion is understood by most of us men, and by most women too.  When we first meet and marry our wives, there is PASSION !  We often can not eat, sleep or work.  She is on our minds 24/7.   It’s not surprising that the Bible portrays our relationship with our wife as being like Christ’s relationship with the Church.  I believe the converse must be true.  The same passion it takes to live with a spouse .. and believe me it takes  never ending and complete passion .. is what Jesus God desires from us.

“25Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26to make her holy”  (Ephesians 5:25-26)

The prayer above is  about seeking the GIVER rather than the gift.   How often do we want the things of God but not God himself.  That would take a personal relationship.  That would require us to give OURSELVES, completely, utterly, passionately.     I know  .. because the Bible tells me so ..  that God would love that too.  After all, he gave up his life so he could have a relationship with me.

I am praying this prayer  in my life.  I hope that you do too.  I know it’ll change us forever.

June 04 2010 | Bible Study | No Comments »

Oh how much we have lost!

Living in Elkhart Indiana has been very interesting the last couple of years.  President Obama has been her twice and on the national news, we were declared to be the “white hot center” of the economic melt down.    This county and it’s workers have lost a LOT.   And it’s far from over.  Elkhart County is still has one of the largest unemployment rates in the country (14.1%)  and there are many jobs, companies and incomes that will simply never come back.

In one of my companies, we lost 35% of our revenue in a period of 3 months back in 2008 when this all started.  It was horrifying.   You can imagine  that the joy and excitement  in my life was suddenly clouded with anxiety.  Overwhelmed, I was becoming a prisoner of worry — something unhealthy for me and also those around me.  Come on Gayle !  God did NOT give you the spirit of fear !

Job said, “Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken way; blessed be the name of the LORD!”

-Job 1:21 (KJV)

In times like these Job’s declaration in the verse above comes to mind. Job had lost all his treasured possessions, and his family was wiped out. I could only guess at the emotional turmoil he must have felt. Yet even after he had endured so much suffering, Job was able still to praise God.

I realized that I too came into this world without anything and will leave without anything. Unlike Job, I had lost a few customers and some revenue.  My family is well and healthy, and I have enjoyed many blessings from God, all of which I need to give thanks for. This thought gave me the joy, peace of mind, and comfort that I needed. Considering the suffering of God’s servant Job and Job’s response had put my minor suffering into perspective.

Praise God for his kindness and favor toward us.  We do not deserve it, can not attain to it, it is a gift of pure Grace.

Job 10:12 “Thou hast granted me life and favour, and thy visitation hath preserved my spirit.”

Psalm 139:1-6

1 O LORD, you have searched me and you know me. 2 You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. 3 You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. 4 Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O LORD. 5 You hem me in—behind and before;  you have laid your hand upon me. 6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me.


June 01 2010 | Bible Study | 3 Comments »

God answers all your prayers. He Really Does !

When we pray, we expect God to hear us.  Otherwise, what would be the point of praying.   If he hears us, then we expect an answer .. mostly we want to hear from God right now !  We are impatient by nature and have no tolerance for long suffering.     We become faithless pretty quickly when we do not get what we pray for.

God help us to not be so short sighted!!

God Hears ALL prayer and answers all of them according to his good pleasure.   God answers some prayers immediately, some eventually, and some only in eternity.   “By his stripes we are healed”  is one of most often quoted verses in the bible.  I believe it too !  I also know that the healing may or may not be in this life.  I know this for sure:  One day very soon, Jesus will return in the air and I’ll be caught up with him and all the saints in an incorruptible new body free of all illness, pain and corruption.

I declare to you, brothers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. 51Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed— 52in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. 53For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. 54When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”  (1 Corinthians 15:50-54)
“God will supply all your needs according to his riches in Glory” is another often quoted verse.  All my needs ?  Really ? Why then doesn’t God give me that new car I’ve been praying for ?  A bigger house ? New furniture ?   I think it’s obvious that such things might not be included on the “Needs” list.  But what if God does give those things to some people ?  Why not me ?  Well, I think this verse is the best for that purpose ..

But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.“  (Matthew 6:33)

Now I will tell you that there is a lot of content in this short verse and we could spend hours studying “Kingdom of God” and “His righteousness” and “these things”.  But you and I  can absolutely rely on one thing.    God will be “on board” in your life if we make him first in ours.   Blessings from God are his pleasure to his children.    Believing that takes faith.  Despite circumstances.  Despite what anyone tells you to the contrary.  God IS able.   Devote yourself to seeking his kingdom and all that CAN be SHALL be.

Meditate and believe on this and you will find peace.

The Lord upholds all who are falling and raises up all who are bowed down. The eyes of all look to you, and you give them their food in due season.
You open your hand; you satisfy the desire of every living thing.
Psalm 145:14-16

May 31 2010 | Bible Study | No Comments »

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